Infrastructure for Whom?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This report by International Rivers challenges the top-down approach to infrastructure projects promoted by the World Bank and the powerful Group of 20, and presents a better way.

Access to clean water and electricity is essential for a healthy, productive life. Yet the top-down infrastructure projects of the past have left more than one billion poor people in the dark. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, donors have spent billions of dollars on dams and transmission lines at the Inga site. The projects serve energy-hungry mining companies, while 94% of the population has no access to electricity.

In November 2011, the World Bank and the Group of 20 prepared new strategies for the infrastructure sector. They propose concentrating public support on big private projects, which they say can boost economic growth in whole regions. They have identified the Inga hydropower scheme on the Congo River as an example for their approach.

The report, "Infrastructure for Whom" from International Rivers contrasts the traditional approach to infrastructure development with bottom-up solutions that address the needs of the poor directly. Such solutions can expand access to water and energy for the poor, strengthen resilience to climate change, reduce the social and environmental impacts of projects, and strengthen democratic control over essential public services.

International Rivers has disseminated the new report widely, and called on governments and the new World Bank President to embrace a new, more promising approach to the infrastructure sector. Please read the new report, share it on social media, and find out how you can help us spread the word!